Grab your mat and do yoga- no matter where you are

Lotus pose

When I tell someone I’m doing yoga here in Armenia, I face with two types of radically different attitudes: “wow, you’re great, wish we would have time/desire/ physical shape/money to do that” and – “oh, how frivolous of you to do those awkward poses instead of learning to, for instance, how to knit for your future children”. I won’t go into details explaining the roots and reasons for the latter attitude toward yoga – this is something peculiar to the society I live in (and maybe other conservative societies as well)- enmity to something undiscovered. Instead, I want you to share how this 5000-year-old physical and spiritual practice has influenced my routine, physical and mental state. Whether you’ll join the “wow” or “blah” posses, it’s up to you:)

  1. Flexibility and strength

It’s already 2 years that I have been practicing yoga. Of course, there was a major hiatus during this time (about a 6 months of non-yoga period) after which I restarted it a few weeks ago. At first, it felt awkward. Sometimes I would burst out laughing while doing Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog), especially when I failed to keep the posture for at least 20 seconds (20 seconds feel like 20 hours during the first yoga classes, I confess) and saw my tortured reflection in the mirror. But gradually I got accustomed to even the most intricate asanas, and my body and mind started loving it. From 20 seconds up to 1.5 minutes- this is the asana-holding progress of mine.

Downward-facing dog pose

Downward-facing dog pose

  1. Positive aura

From the first yoga classes, I noticed: when a group of people begin focusing on their bodily sensations and dropping their worries and never-ending inner dialog, a unique aura of tranquility is created. It’s shaped by the instructor in the first place. So, it’s important to find the one whose methods and aura aligns well with yours. Soon enough, you’ll discover and nurture deeper connection with him/her and follow the instructions involuntarily, naturally, without forcing – just going with the flow of series of conscious stretches (a very Zen- and yoga-like concept, indeed). I’m happy to have a great instructor whose overflowing positive aura is making the class a really serene experience.

  1. Self-discipline

Like any other hobby or pursuit, commitment is key for prominent results, and it holds true to yoga in the first place. Practicing yoga is never a route from tada-asana (mountain pose) to sirsasana (headstand). It’s a never-ending journey- full of self-discoveries, failures, challenges and fulfillment. Nobody (even the most distinguished gurus living in Tibet Mountains) can say they fully master yoga. So, what can we, common mortals, expect from practicing twice a week?

First of all, after a couple of months, expect to enjoy the classes and want more. The best time for yoga is indeed morning. Especially in spring, it’s such a bliss to wake up at 7:00, drink some water and start a 10-minute yoga warmup followed by OMM and a couple of morning asanas or Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation). (Dear owls, don’t fret and justify your not doing yoga at least 4 times a week by your crazy sleep patterns. Do it an hour before sleep! It’s better than nothing). Believe me, the rest of the day will seem calmer and more stress-free. Besides, if you commit to asanas, you notice modifications in general patterns as well – more resilience, patience and even wisdom in decision-making.

Surya Namaskar

Surya Namaskar

  1. Relaxation

It’s naive to think that doing yoga twice a week is a ticket to blissful and stress-free routine. Neither does it prevent us from the negativity we face in every walks of our lives. If you seek nirvana, leave the urban life and go to mountains. Still we can control and reduce our stressful lives led at crazy city paces with yoga breathing exercises or pranayamas. These are simple yet powerful breathing techniques which reinforce our vital energy and slow down our rushing thoughts.

As I’m writing these lines I feel like standing up and twisting my body into a cobra pose or doing a simple pranayama (I’ve been sitting for almost 50 minutes in a row- it’s torturing for a beginning yogi!). A couple of hours and I’ll grab my mat to my room and breathe away the daily stress for a few minutes. And I strongly encourage you to drop your complexes and fears and try your yogi practice as well.

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